Family Traditions: Thanksgiving

We love our family traditions so much.  When we don't stick to them, something doesn't feel right, like the holiday wasn't fully celebrated or something.  Instead of doing all of our fall/winter traditions together, we decided to split them up because we just have so many pre-Christmas and Christmas traditions that it would be too long to post all together.  We hope you enjoy reading about these traditions and maybe even feel encouraged to share some of yours!

Gen's thoughts on Thanksgiving:

Some snippets of a Thanksgiving morning in our house from my perspective, in irresponsibly bad free verse:

Mingling scents. Hazelnut coffee, roasting turkey skin, warm apple pie.

Peeling, boiling, mashing Yukon Gold potatoes. So much butter.

Macy’s Day Parade. Freshly launched teen pop stars lip-synching. Where is Santa?

But seriously, I look forward to Thanksgiving morning all year. The house is so warm and richly fragrant, somehow busy and relaxed at once, with the happy undertone of upcoming Christmas festivities. I honestly prefer it to the feast itself, especially because I usually pick at the offerings during the cooking process and spoil my appetite. My mom usually makes a big cookie out of the leftover crust from her apple pie, and I eat it all morning long with my coffee. It reminds me of being a kid in the best possible way.

We typically have dinner in the afternoon. I put on a roomy dress or some stretchy pants and a big sweater. I just graduated from the kids’ table two years ago at the age of twenty-seven. This year, I’m so excited to watch Patrick enjoy his first Thanksgiving dinner. I plan to stuff that baby like a turkey.


Kat's thoughts on Black Friday:

So I don't normally do this, but with this article, I looked at what Gen did first to decide what I would do to talk about Black Friday.  So in similar style, here's what comes to mind when I think about Black Friday:

Black.  Friday?  Did I even sleep?  Is it too early for coffee?  Sifting through coupons.  Christmas music in the car.

Cold air.  Parking.  Free snowglobe.  Now I have to carry it around all day.  Second cup of coffee at 5 am.

Crowds arriving.  We're leaving.  Time for lunch at 9am.  Countless bags fill the trunk.  What did I just buy?  

So those are my thoughts.  Black Friday always brings so much excitement for me because it's a time for me to bond with my mom and my sister over coffee and great (ish) deals.  The past two Black Fridays I've been in Pittsburgh, so I've been alone, but I still get up super early, get my coffee, listen to Christmas music, and drive to the outlets to get everyone's Christmas presents.  And of course I text my mom and Gen the whole time I'm shopping, since I know they're up as early as I am.  

During the years we've shopped together there has always been someone from the local news station filming the crowds (which have gotten smaller on Friday since stores now open on Thanksgiving - dumb).  And every year my mom and I inch towards the camera to try to be on TV and Gen walks 100 yards in front of us super fast to pretend like she doesn't know us.  It happens WITHOUT FAIL every. single. year.  It's so indicative of our personality types, and it makes me laugh just thinking about it.

When I was in high school and college, Mom would buy a lot of things we'd pick out for ourselves, and as we've gotten older, we've shifted from looking for ourselves to looking for other family members and now our kids.  I can't wait to continue this tradition with my kids once they're old enough to come with us.  I love the fun we have together on this really early, really long, yet really fun day.


Mom's Apple Pie

Now it's time to share my mom's DELICIOUS apple crumb pie recipe.  Technically, this is just a variation of her recipe because she does it every year and knows it by heart.  And every year when I ask her to share it with me, she says she kind of does a little bit of this or a little bit of that, and I just text her pictures throughout the day to see if I'm doing it right.  This past time I baked it I wrote down what I did so that it could be recorded and immortalized on the internet.  So this is my best attempt to replicate the deliciousness she's brought to our family every year with this pie.

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Ingredients:

Pie Crust:

  • Pillsbury Pie Crust.  It's that easy. (So maybe this is cheating, but when it's Thanksgiving and you're cooking a turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, whatever million casseroles you decide to bake, and a bunch of other things, I don't think people are going to critique you on your pre-made pie crust.)

Filling:

  • 5-6 medium sized Granny Smith apples (or your favorite kind of apple)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1-3 tbsp flour  

Crumb Topping:

  • 1.5-2 cups flour (start with 1.5 cups then see if you need more)
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1.5-2 sticks of softened butter (yes, you read that correctly).

Instructions:

1. Poke at your pie crust with a fork a few times before you bake it.  Bake it according to package directions for just a few minutes (mine was for 11 minutes at 425 degrees F).  This makes it crispy on the bottom.

2. Dice apples.  I prefer to dice rather than slice because it's easier and tastes the same so who cares.

3. Melt 2 tbsp of butter in medium to large saucepan.  Add apples, cinnamon, sugar, and flour, and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Turn heat to high for an extra 2-3 minutes to get some of the liquid to boil off.  Don't overcook the apples if you want them crispy.  (See below for picture of diced, cooked apples)

4. Let the apples and pie crust cool and lower heat of the oven to 400 degrees F.

5. While the apples cool, make the crumb topping.  Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry ingredients.  You want the ingredients to be almost just like you want them on top of your cake.  If they're runny, you need more flour.  If they're too powdery, more butter.  This is why it's important that the butter isn't too hard or too runny. (See below for example of crust texture)

6. Scoop the cooled apples and some of the liquid (but not all because it'll make it too runny) into the pie crust.

7. Crumble the topping all over the top of the apples, and make a hole (with your finger is fine) in the middle of the pie. (See below.)

8. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees F with foil on top and around crust edges to avoid the top and edges burning.

9. Then bake for another 10-15 minutes without foil.

10. Let cool (a little bit) and enjoy!

Gen got me this spatula, and it's totally telling a lie, but it's cute.  This is what my apples looked like diced and once they were cooked in the pan.

Gen got me this spatula, and it's totally telling a lie, but it's cute.  This is what my apples looked like diced and once they were cooked in the pan.

This is kind of what you want your crust to look like before you put it on top of your pie. 

This is kind of what you want your crust to look like before you put it on top of your pie. 

Make sure you make a hole in the middle of the pie.  It lets the liquid from the inside have a place to go out other than the sides of the pie.

Make sure you make a hole in the middle of the pie.  It lets the liquid from the inside have a place to go out other than the sides of the pie.